Life is not static. There are things within and beyond our control. It can be in our personal lives, team or organizations. Something will go wrong at some point. I’ve started sharing some of the lessons I learned or was reminded when my blog crashed not too long ago. In another post I share about what to do when things fall apart. I alluded to how it can be a perfect opportunity for adjustments as well as an important first step to recovery. (You can read “When Things Fall Apart” here) I am positive that, like me, you know what it is to operate in your strengths, shortcomings and downright “clueless”.
There are numerous factors that led to the blog crashing but this one is one of the biggest reasons – clueless! I got to a place of limited knowledge and decided to push ahead anyway. I had one of those moments where I knew that what I was about to do was going to bring bad results but I did it anyway! Be it in your personal life or role as a leader there are times you know that the only thing you’re going to achieve with a decision or action you’re about to make is nothing but a mess of note. I think this behavior is what gave birth to the axiom, “You’ve made your bed now lie in it!”
In the next decision or action in your personal life or role as a leader choose to listen to what some call, “the voice of reason”. When you know for sure that what you have is a mess in the making, stop! It’s that simple! You don’t have to learn everything from a colossal mess! It is not necessary for you to be a failure of note to learn something significant and be a better leader, team or organization. You don’t have to “fail forward” to move forward. You can move ahead without having to work your failure into a stepping stone! Use your failures but don’t create them when you don’t have to! Your opinion alone can be your demise. When you are not sure or do not know, avoid making decisions on your own.
I love it when I know that I don’t know. Knowing that you do not know is the first step to cure your ignorance! When you know that you do not know and know there is someone whoknows it is folly to continue in ignorance. You need this reminder: seek help from those who know when you don’t know! Enlist skills from other people or organizations where you have limitations. It can prove more cost effective to outsource than messing up and then calling someone else who knows better to fix things. Seek out a forgotten catalyst for learning and success. Google. Read. If you cannot afford to hire someone, do your homework well. One of leaders’ worst enemies is nurtured ignorance!
Every now and then a reminder needs to be issued. The Church is not a building. Neither is it programs that are run by her. The church is not how good the music or the preaching is. The church is not how much offering comes in or does not. The church is not liturgy. The church not man’s idea, it is God’s! The church is not just about the people in it. (It is also for the people not yet in it!) The church is not made up of people ‘who have it all together’.
The church is not how well people dress up on Sunday. The church is not the stain glass or steeple. The church is not complete without you! The church is not and should not be a place where some are more important than others. The church is not and should not be a closed ‘community’ or club. The church is not how well her building is adorned. The Church is NOT complete without you!
.illustration: from outside Wordwise, in Hartebeespoortdam
My blog was down a couple of weeks ago. It took about 3 days to get everything working again as it should. During that period there are some things I learned as well as reminded of. These are things I think are valuable in life and leadership. I felt challenged as I pondered the lessons… There is opportunity for growth in the midst of setbacks. Your setbacks will set you back even further if you simply see them as such and not opportunities for growth. Here two things to consider when things fall apart:
Perfect: It is the perfect opportunity to effect some changes. Sometimes it is difficult to effect change in the middle of processes. When things aren’t just working there is nothing more you can lose! You can’t do any worse! Evaluate what was not working as it should and correct it before restoration. Review frameworks, perceptions and approach while everything is down in order to rebuild stronger. Put in place things that will help you even go farther and stronger. When you lose something it is great opportunity for a fresh and better start not to wallow in self pity and unhealthy self criticism. Don’t waste the ‘ruins’!
Prevent: Before rushing to restore things to their previous working state, always ensure you have understood why they broke down. Acting out of panic or frustration will cause you to focus on restoring things only. Restoring anything to a working state will be more worthwhile after understanding why they crashed in the first place. Using downtime to understand the cause of the crash will be an investment that can save you valuable resources going ahead. Never stop at asking why things got to where they are. To effectively solve a problem you have to understand the root cause and deal with it, otherwise it will be live longer and cost you more. If you do not go to the root of the problem you may just repeat it again. You might also discover that the cause of the breakdown might have been a gradual development.
Excuses are as old as humanity. Everyone is using them in one area or another. You’ve used them and chances are tomorrow you may use a couple without even realizing. They have become a normal part of our lives. Either we hear them, accommodate or use them. In all cases we interact with them. Here are some of my (random) thoughts on excuses:
Significance: they never built anything significant: Simply put, excuses are the reason something was either not done or could not be done. They can be very logical and valid. Excuses make it easy for people to get hung up on why something cannot be done instead of why we cannot afford to do it.
Nowhere: It takes as much energy to think of some excuses as it is to think of solutions. They are not always easy to conjure and often burn up energy that could be used for progress. Using and entertaining them keeps you from moving forward. Your biggest obstacle at the moment is that you’re paying too much attention to excuses. Only when you start looking beyond the why-it-cannot-be-done excuses do you get on track to significant achievements. Excuses are the main reason why things stay the same or deteriorate. They will take you nowhere worth going!
Keep from: Excuses are what people use to keep themselves from God. It gets worse, by so doing they rob themselves of a life or purpose and significance. They have also kept people from dreaming and achieving with God. Another sad fact: some of the excuses people conjure sound very ‘spiritual’ that others start buying into them. What excuses have you bought into that are keeping you from God and or achieving with Him?
Creativity: Excuses are wasted imagination and creativity. Like I’ve said it’s not always easy to come up with excuses. Fabricating them is often not seen as time and energy wasters but more as the means of not using energy, creativity and time. On the contrary, it is.
I actually had more random thoughts but thought that I’d leave this open to give you room to add yours… What are some of the common excuses people use? What’s your take on excuses?
It matters who you share your dreams, goals or aspirations with. This means you must be well prepared for truth or perspectives that will not necessarily match yours. As difficult as it may be, it also means you need to be an objective listener and not listening only for what you want to hear but what you need to hear. Sharing your dreams and goals is important to keep you accountable as you pursue them. It will also protect you from worthless pursuits and or false starts. The people you share your dreams with will determine:
Pursuit: They will affect whether you pursue your dream or not. Some may validate it. Others will challenge and strongly recommend you don’t pursue it any further. I am not suggesting that you use this as a way to determine whether to “chase” or not… You need to have a balance in perspectives before you pursue anything and decide for yourself. Thus whoever you share your aspirations with, will encourage or discourage you, lead you to your demise or your blossoming.
How: Whoever you share your aspirations with may, to a great extent, shape how you pursue them. With this in mind, do your best to find people that have a clue or have walked a similar journey. There is an African proverb: You ask for the way from those that are ahead. [almost literal translation, but you get the gist] In other words seek out those that have walked the road. If you cannot find someone to help you map the way forward, find someone that is willing to help you find it.
Therefore, carefully consider with whom and how to share your dreams and goals. Make sure you are clear on what they are. Be objective as you share and listen to other people. You cannot follow everyone’s counsel, but ensure that you have enlisted counsel with different views; either from different people or an individual that will fairly assess the pros and cons.
What are other things one must remember when sharing dreams or goals? Any other thoughts?